“Cyclone takes the strengths of Robert Peake’s previous work — candour, intensity, a hard-won wit — and enters the storm, in search of an answer to the question raised by his heartbreaking ‘Why I Should Be Over It By Now’. Built around four remarkable sequences, this new collection takes him into the most difficult of territories — grief and parental loss — to recover the possibility, however fugitive, of healing. The ‘Cyclone’ here is both personal and political. In such turbulent and shrill times, this is his most powerful work to date.” -Michael Symmons Roberts, author of Drysalter, winner of the Forward Prize
“Homesickness, belonging, and travelling without arriving are just some of the terrain covered in Peakes Cyclone, but it’s the vitality and emotional courage in the language of these poems that one is most struck by — language stepping in and out of the shadows and yearning ‘in the silt-choked afterlife of someone’s grief.’ A beautiful book that deserves to be lingered over and read widely.” -Mona Arshi, author of Small Hands, winner of the Forward Prize for best first collection
This is a great way to get new perspectives and reinvigorate your writing. So, if you or someone you know in Southeast England might be interested, please do have a look at The Poetry Society website to learn more and book your place.
Valerie Morton, author of two full-length collections of poetry, had this to say about our time together:
Having never done a ‘poetry surgery’ before I was a little apprehensive, but Robert Peake immediately put me at ease. He had done a lot of work on the poems I had sent in advance and helped me to look at them with new eyes. His thoughts and ideas helped me free up my language and inspired me to be braver with the material I had. I felt I was getting into a bit of a rut with my writing but I left this surgery feeling uplifted and encouraged to be unafraid to experiment more. It was one of the best value hours I have spent with a poet who I trust and whose own work I admire. It certainly helps lift a writer’s block.
The rear-view glimpse is fleeting as he lets you into the lane.
He might not have a face at all or change it like a set of masks—
behind a newspaper in the waiting room, sliding over to make room on the bus.
You resolve next time to look at him, risk letting him look back at you.
You taste the salt in your throat, and you hear him ask, What’s wrong?
You smile at him and say, Nothing. And you mean it. Nothing at all.
The man with the kindest face has change for a twenty
He doesn’t look rich. Yet his pockets overflow with coins. “How much do you need?” he asks, and you tell him. You want to tell him more—-that you need to believe, understand, be heard. He extends his closed hand like a magician. You expect nothing. You expect a dove to fly out from his sleeve. You open your hand, beneath his, and wait.
The poem is a splice of the first poem that opens my new collection Cyclone and one of the many poems featuring the same figure that recurs throughout the collection. The film is footage from the Prelinger Archives, which I projected cylindrically into a 3D rendering environment (Blender), rotating the camera to give a continuous scroll effect. I then sliced and flipped this, giving the Rorschach-test-like effect of imagery spilling out from the midline. We then projected this footage onto the face of our friend and actor Barney Wells with a sheet behind him and filmed it. Valerie once again composed and performed the music, and from there it all came together quite quickly in the editing process.
There was a point at which the analog world was overtaken by the digital, and I was right there, stumbling through puberty from childhood to adolescence.
I can’t resist ekphrasis. So when Gill Stoker of the Mary Evans Picture Gallery sent me a few pictures from the collection and request to (poetically) respond, I gravitated toward a stock image that summed up this formative time.